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Japanese woman on Milford Track to rejoin tour

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The 73-year-old Japanese woman who was found after going missing on the Milford Track yesterday will rejoin her group for dinner at Milford Sound this evening.

The woman left the track for as yet unknown reasons after lunch yesterday and became lost in dense bush. She was located by the Southern Lakes Rescue Helicopter team equipped with thermal imaging night vision at around midnight following an extensive land and aerial search. Ultimate Hikes staff with supplies reached her about 1am and all remained in place until recovery was possible this morning.

The woman was uninjured and in good spirits when she reached Te Anau and was keen to rejoin her group.

The woman is part of a multi-day guided walk with Ultimate Hikes. The group, accompanied by four guides, was on the third day of a five-day trek, which starts in Te Anau and ends at Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park.

Ultimate Hikes General Manager Noel Saxon says he and the team involved in the rescue effort are relieved and really pleased that the woman is safe, well and in good spirits.

"Our first concern is safety and as soon as we were aware she was missing we coordinated a sweep by track staff and then immediately launched a full search and rescue response. We are very pleased that she did all the right things once she realised she was lost, she made herself as comfortable as she could and then waited, rather than risking trying to find her way back in the dark."

"I would like to thank our Ultimate Hikes team, the Te Anau Search and Rescue team and the Police for their effective action and support in finding and recovering our guest. Their actions and commitment led to this incident having a positive outcome."

The company will now conduct an internal investigation into the incident.


22/23 March

12.45pm Woman leaves Pass Shelter after a lunch stop with her Ultimate Hikes group and guides

1:00pm Woman has a conversation with another walker on the track

5.20pm Guides report to management that the woman has not yet arrived at Quintin Lodge

6.30pm Ground search is launched. The entire track is covered with main search area between Quintin Lodge and Pass Shelter

6.45pm Emergency services notified

11.00pm Te Anau SAR team begins a night time, night-vision search in the Southern Lakes Rescue Helicopter

Midnight The woman is spotted, but difficult terrain makes a night recovery attempt not safely possible

1.00am Two Ultimate Hikes guides and General Manager Noel Saxon reach her after being lowered into the area and then hiking through thick bush

9.30 am Woman airlifted to Te Anau and checked by local doctors

4.00pm Woman likely to arrive at Milford Sound to rejoin her group.

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